News & Articles

Featured Article

Opinion: Critiques of Carbon Credits Aren’t Asking the Right Question

Carbon market critiques always seem to ask whether these mechanisms have solved the climate crisis, and the answer is always a decisive “No.” That, however, puts the onus on one mechanism instead of on society and detracts from the real question: namely, “Is there any way to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement without protecting the world’s forests?” This leads to another “No,” but with other implications.

A Financial Architecture for Global Carbon Sinks: A New Forestry Investment Strategy

Natural climate solutions can get us one-third of the way to meeting the Paris Agreement’s 2-degree target, but they draw just 3 percent of climate finance. We can change that by developing a new financial architecture that recognizes nature as an asset class, and New Forests’ CEO David Brand says forestry’s evolution as an asset class can inform that development.

A Brief History of Planting Trees to Save the Environment

Major media are finally waking up to the role that trees can play in slowing and even reversing climate change, and that’s great. Unfortunately, most still seem oblivious to mechanisms emerging to not only plant trees but saving forests and support farmers.

Americans Deserve Better Coverage of Carbon Finance

The climate challenge is complex, and so are the solutions emerging for meeting it. Unfortunately, the same sloppy reporting that got us into this mess is now threatening to keep us here, says Ecosystem Marketplace editor Steve Zwick and COTAP founder Tim Whitley.

Webinar to Explore Role of Investors in Holding Companies Accountable for Deforestation

Hundreds of corporations say they want to reduce their impact on forests, and many actually make good on that claim. Most, however, say haven’t been able to do so because every NGO seems to have its own definition of deforestation. That changed with the arrival of the Accountability Framework two weeks ago, and a Wednesday webinar will explore the role of investors in driving corporate action.

One-Sixth of the World’s Economy Could Soon Be Covered by Carbon Neutral Commitments

Commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement aren’t yet deep enough to avoid a climate catastrophe, but more and more countries and companies are either contemplating or committing to carbon neutrality by a specific date in the future. A new analysis shows that 16 percent of the global economy could soon be covered by net-zero commitments.

Bonn Climate Talks Open With Focus on Food and Markets

Two weeks of UN climate talks opened today in the former German capital of Bonn, with the 50th meetings of both the Subsidiary Body for Implementation and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice, as well as a two-day workshop on agriculture within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the inaugural meeting of the Facilitative Working Group of the local communities and indigenous peoples platform.

Can Natural Climate Solutions Defuse the Arctic Methane Bomb?

Twenty years ago, the IPCC warned that global warming would melt arctic ice, releasing methane that drives up temperatures faster and faster. It’s a nightmare scenario that mainstream media dismissed as something akin to apocalyptic fiction, but now it’s here. Nature-based solutions may still be able to help us avert the worst effects, but are we willing to pay for them?

Nearly Half of Companies With Deforestation Risk Aren’t Addressing It

Some of the world’s most high-profile companies have committed to purging deforestation from their commodity supply chains, but they amount to just 8 percent of global companies involved in the production of commodities associated with deforestation, and a staggering 44 percent of such companies have made no public commitments to harvest commodities sustainably. New analysis from Ceres and Supply Change aims to address that.

Two Tenths of A Percent to Help End Climate Change?

Renewable energy costs have plunged in the past decade, but we’re still trillions shy of meeting the climate challenge. Carbon taxes will drive down emissions and fund solutions, while a general tax will do the latter but not the former. A new proposal calls for a voluntary surcharge on savings to get money flowing now, before it’s too late.

To Get People Engaged on Climate, Media Must Focus on Solutions

Mainstream media are finally coming to terms with the enormity of the climate challenge, but their shift from complacency to panic mode may leave people feeling helpless. To implement real change, they need to focus more on solutions, argue these two linguists.

Shares in Sustainable Palm Oil Companies Outperform Those of Bad Actors by 25%

For decades, palm oil companies got big by being bad – specifically, by chopping forests to make way for oil palm plantations. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was created in 2004 to change that, and there’s mounting evidence it may be working. New research of RSPO members outperforms shares of non-members by 25 percent, just as a new index of RSPO members launches.

A $50 Price on Carbon Will Boost Forest Carbon Sink 15 Percent: Study

The generally-accepted social cost of carbon is roughly $100 per ton of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but voluntary carbon prices rarely top $10 per ton. New research shows that a price of just $20 per ton can dramatically slow deforestation, especially in Africa, and mop up nearly 6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide.

What ProPublica Gets Wrong – And Right – On Forest Carbon Finance

Everyone agrees that we must save the world’s forests if we’re to end climate change, but how to get there? One cluster of tools involves using carbon finance to keep forests alive, and a ProPublica piece critical of such efforts sparked a swirl of reactions, including one in these pages. EDF’s Steve Schwartzman argues that the critique failed to adequately distinguish between isolated projects and jurisdiction-wide programs.

Opinion: ProPublica’s Inexcusable REDD+ Belly Flop

Mainstream media outlets have been congratulating themselves of late for becoming just 20 years too late on climate change, and now the same institutions that have consistently failed to cover the enormity of the challenge are failing to cover the myriad interlocking solutions. This week, ProPublica became the latest outlet to blow it

Remembering The Day Milton Friedman “Endorsed” A Price On Carbon

Climate change is finally beginning to get the media attention it deserves, reviving in the process dormant debates over how to deal with it. Most economists argue that the most effective way to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions is to make emitters pay for the damage they cause. Today we look back to what happened when the University of Chicago resurrected its most famous economist to see how he proposed dealing with environmental catastrophes.

The Astonishing Opportunities in Our “Hidden Infrastructure”

US President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently reached across the political divide to agree to spend up to $2 trillion to fix America’s battered infrastructure. That infrastructure deal has yet to be constructed. But it should include investments in green infrastructure – not just gray.

How Can We Save Our Food Systems From Climate Change?

Climate-smart agriculture and natural climate solutions are key to meeting the climate challenge, but so is helping farmers implement technologies that can help them withstand the changes ahead. A new report from the Food and Agriculture Organization identifies the greatest risks to our food supply and how we can best address them.

IPCC Updates GHG Inventory Recommendations

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has updated the guidance it provides to governments for measuring its greenhouse-gas emissions, including flows of carbon into and out of land systems.

Before Electing Bolsonaro, Brazil Slashed Emissions 70%. Nobody Cared

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says the Amazon is Brazil’s to exploit, and the world should stop meddling in it. He’s wrong, but the resentment that thrust him into office has a history, and it’s one more of us must acknowledge if we’re to save the “lungs of the planet.”

How Carbon Markets Can Boost Biodiversity And Slow Climate Change

Research shows we can get 37 percent of the way to meeting the Paris Climate Agreement’s 2-degree target by improving the way we manage forests, farms, and fields, and carbon markets offer a way of funneling money into these activities. Here’s where markets stand now, and how we move them forward quickly.

EM Boss Kelley Hamrick Honored With CARROT Award For Work On Carbon Markets

California’s Climate Action Reserve has recognized Ecosystem Marketplace Program Manager Kelley Hamrick with its “Climate Action Reserve Recognizing Our Team” (CARROT) Award. She has authored or co-authored over 15 reports, including our flagship annual reports on the State of Private Investment in Conservation and the State of Voluntary Carbon Markets.

Extinction Crisis Threatens Ecosystem Services That Provide Our Food

A key UN body has just aggregated all known research on biodiversity loss, including knowledge gleaned from indigenous peoples, and the results are devastating: more than 20 percent of known plant and animal species have disappeared in the last century, while more are disappearing daily. The result is a grave threat to our entire food system. But therein lies our salvation.

World Lost 12 Million Hectares of Tropical Forest in 2018

Companies around the world have pledged to end deforestation by 2020, but the world lost enough tropical forests to cover all of Belgium in 2018. Put another way: tropical forests are disappearing at a rate of 30 football fields per minute.

Green Old Deal: Why Carbon Offsets Matter More Than Ever

The Green New Deal Resolution may have failed in the Senate, but it’s spawned a flurry of new proposals and revived talk of a national price on carbon. Tim Whitley of Carbon Offsets to Alleviate Poverty (COTAP) explains why that really is a very big deal.

Remembering Forgotten Climate Solutions this Earth Day

Earth Day began a half-century ago as part of an effort to help college students understand the importance of ecology. Such education is still critical if we’re to meet the climate challenge, so we’re using this day to shine a light on a few key tools for reversing climate change.

Carbon Markets Back in Limelight as US Finally Joins the Global Climate Effort

The Green New Deal may have failed in the Senate, but Democrats and even some Republicans are introducing legislation to address climate change, and the emerging targets can’t be achieved without some form of carbon pricing. That means the revival of an old debate, and possibly the resurrection of some old myths. Here are the old myths, together with findings showing why they belong on the scrapheap of alternative facts.

Nature, Paid on Delivery: Is Pay for Success the Future of Ecological Restoration?

As an environmental scientist, Tim Male learned how to restore degraded ecosystems. As an elected councilman, he learned how to pay for them. Finally, as an adviser to the Obama White House, he got to see nationally what works, what doesn’t, and why. Here’s why he believes that “pay for success” models can ratchet up restoration and keep down costs.

In Ecological Restoration, High Costs Trump Regulatory Rollbacks

The Trump Administration wants to roll back federal protection of wetlands, but it also aims to increase support for water quality trading and bundling of environmental credits. For people who work in ecological restoration, however, the biggest regulatory challenge may be the high cost of compliance – brought on, ironically, by tight regulatory budgets.

Analysis
Defending the Amazon, and the Earth, from “Trump of the Tropics”

California’s Air Resources Board looks set to adopt the Tropical Forest Standard in the next few months, a move that would embed social values into carbon offsets that are used to reduce emissions in the state, no matter where those offsets come from. The move could raise the bar for forest carbon projects around the world, and provide a bulwark against unsustainable agriculture practices in the Amazon.

The Story of the Surui Forest Carbon Project

In 2009, the Paiter-Surui of the Brazilian Amazon became the first indigenous people to save their forest through the use of carbon finance. The project slashed deforestation and jump-started sustainable agriculture projects across the territory, but faced opposition from religious extremists, illegal loggers, and diamond miners.

Forests, Farms, and the Global Carbon Sink: The Genesis

Agriculture, deforestation, and forest fires generate up to 40 percent of all man-made greenhouse gasses, but farmers are only now beginning to play a role in global talks through a process known as the “Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture”. In this series, we explore the evolution of land use within the global climate apparatus.

From the Blog
A Dispatch from Peru for World Water Day

The people of Peru have been sustainably managing their water for millennia, with infrastructure projects that surpass even the better-known aqueducts of ancient Rome. World Water Day is especially critical in the desert city of Lima.

More Evidence Companies Won’t Meet 2020 Deforestation Targets

Hundreds of companies have pledged to purge deforestation from their supply chains, but research by Climate Focus, TFA 2020, and the Forest Trends Supply Change initiative have long indicated that few companies will meet their targets and most will fall woefully short. Now new research from Forest 500 reiterates those findings.

Land Use, Markets, and the Green New Deal: a Conversation With Rhiana Gunn-Wright

The Green New Deal Resolution has been alternately vilified, glorified, and dismissed since freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and veteran Senator Ed Markey unveiled it last month. We spoke to policy adviser Rhiana Gunn-Wright about the resolution and the role of markets and natural climate solutions.

Forests, Farms, and the Global Carbon Sink: It’s Happening

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says we need carbon sinks if we’re to meet the climate challenge, and farmers have the ability to turn forests, fields, and farms into just that. Unfortunately, they’ve been slow to embrace the global apparatuses for meeting the climate challenge, until now. Here’s how that changed, and why it matters.

Six Leading Commodity Groups Agree to Come Clean on Cerrado Impact

When Jair Bolsonaro defanged Brazil’s federal environmental regulatory apparatus, hope fell to international commodity buyers and individual Brazilian states. Although neither can substitute for federal regulation, each has stepped up in its own way – most recently with a pledge to provide transparency on soy sourcing.

Conserve to Build: Protecting Ecosystems to Ensure Water Supplies in Peru

Run out of water? Is it possible for a source of water to just dry up, or for water supplies for a city to be affected in quantity or quality to the point of being unusable for human consumption? Could a river, a lake, or a puquial that had existed for as long as anyone could remember just disappear? Unfortunately, it can happen. Here’s how to fix it.

UN Declares 2021-2030 the “Decade on Ecosystem Restoration”

Human civilization depends on Earth’s rapidly-deteriorating ecosystems, which cleanse our water, purify our air, and regulate our climate. Today, the United Nations General Assembly launched a global effort to restore ecosystems over an area the size of South America.

Six Weeks Left to Comment on Trump Administration Clean Water Rule

For decades, the federal government has protected wetlands and tributaries that flow into rivers, streams, and lakes of the United States. Now President Donald Trump and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler have proposed a new rule that would leave more than half the country’s wetlands a chunk of its intermittent streams unprotected. Public commenting ends April 15.

NGOs Pressure UN Aviation Agency on Offsetting Rules

Aviation is one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and will triple by 2050 if current trends continue. Flights between countries, however, aren’t covered by the Paris Climate Agreement, but by the International Civil Aviation Organization. That agency has agreed to cap net emissions at 2020 levels, in part by letting airlines offset emissions above a certain level, with key guidance due this week.